Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Johnny Deadline: Bits and Pieces

 by JB

Flotsam and jetsam that streamed through my “inbox” this week.

I was lucky enough to be gifted the new 4K discs of True Lies and Aliens on my recent birthday. Opinions of these long-sought-after discs vary, but I decided to give them a spin to enter the critical fray. I do not feel, as some critics do, that DNR was over-used on the True Lies disc. No smeary oil-painting-like images there. I do think the transfer is indifferent. I recently watched True Lies on a streaming service to prepare for our award-winning podcast on it; I didn’t see much of a difference. The new 4K lacks the “wow” factor that really stunning new transfers elicit. This contained no “wow.”
The Aliens disc looks and sounds terrific. Perhaps it's only a question of familiarity (I had not watched Aliens in a dog’s age) but I think the new disc looks stunning. True, it does reveal the limitations of some of the 1980’s era (era) special effects, but I feel this disc is the best of any version of the film I had ever screened.

On a related note, I recently swallowed hard and bought a new soundbar. (The long, involved saga of the OLD soundbar... is a story for another day.) So far, everything seems ducky. I hooked it up to the eARC HDMI out; it turns itself on and off with the monitor; it automatically suppressed the monitor’s tiny, inadequate speakers; and it amplifies anything I’m watching, with no switching or button-pressing needed. I can hear my wife's eyes glazing over just TYPING this! But I know you, Gentle Reader, also care about this stuff. This is a case of the damn components talking to each other over the HDMI cable... and I approve.

ONE CAVEAT: On selected 4K and Blu-ray discs (Never with streaming services or Cable TV) the sync is occasionally thrown off by about a second and a half. Pausing the disc, then hitting play again often helps. What causes this? It’s barely noticeable. My wife notices more often than I do—is she just making this up to drive me batty? Is it my old, 2K ears? Did Sony engineer this glitch so that NOTHING in my life would be perfect? Which one of these?

My column about Pajama Party last week threw me back down the sandy rabbit hole, so to speak, and I purchased the one "beach movie" available on Blu-ray disc that I didn’t already possess: Beach Party. I have previously declared Beach Party to be, hands down and with absolutely no reservations or equivocation, the best beach party movie ever made. FACTS ARE FACTS. I stand by that opinion; you can read that column here.

The Beach Party Blu-ray looks great with better colors and much better sound... than the 2007 DVD. Because it is not available on Blu-ray, I mistakenly believed that The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini was one of the infamous “Susan Hart 11,” perhaps because she appears in it. Turns out I was wrong.
What are the "Susan Hart 11?" Why, thank you for asking! The "Susan Hart 11" is a group of AIP drive-in pictures that have never been legitimately available on home video because the rights belong to Susan Hart... and she refuses to license them. How did the rights to these 11 films fall into the hands of Susan Hart? (I love your curiosity!) Simple—she was married to AIP co-founder James H. Nicholson. When he died, the rights reverted to her.

I wish some enterprising boutique video label would put out a 4K Blu-ray boxset titled “The Susan Hart Collection.” It would contain: It Conquered the World (1956) and the 1966 remake, Zontar; The Thing from Venus; Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957) and the 1965 remake The Eye Creatures; I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957); I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957); The Amazing Colossal Man (1957); Terror from the Year 5000 (1958); Apache Woman (1955); The Oklahoma Woman (1956); and Naked Paradise (1957). My God, Apache Woman was the second film Roger Corman ever directed! These films are history! Are you listening, Vinegar Syndrome? Imprint? Shout Factory? Arrow? ANYONE? Hello?

By the way: The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini was once available on an MGM Double Features DVD with The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow. It is currently available from an “Amazon Seller” for the princely sum of $45. Not familiar with The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini? You can read that column here.
IN OTHER NEWS: The release of a new Vincent Price action figure in NECA’s Toony Terrors line has once again reignited my love for these little plastic gee-gaws and forced me— forced me, I say!— to set them all up in my office. The most recent figures are Price and the Tar Man from Return of the Living Dead. I love the stylization, and I love the unspoken backstory that somehow all of these classic monsters eventually wound up on Scooby Doo. I eagerly await (if only in my dreams) the unproduced episodes featuring Herbert West from Re-Animator, Michael Meyers, Leatherface, Jason, John Carver from the recent Thanksgiving, Regan MacNeil, and the Killer Miner from My Bloody Valentine... especially the moment when each rips off the mask and announces that they would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling kids!

IN OTHER OTHER NEWS: I stopped at my favorite bookstore, Dark Delicacies in Burbank, and chanced upon a book signing. Author Max Evry was there, with his brand spanking new book, A Masterpiece in Disarray: David Lynch’s Dune. The timing was grand because my wife and I had just watched Lynch’s film the other night; we had not seen it in ages and were wondering how it stacked up to Villeneuve’s new version. The 1984 Dune is severely truncated; producer Dino De Laurentiis cut Lynch’s movie to a tidy 137 minutes, and Lynch had his name removed from the longer, 186-minute TV version. Evry’s book is terrific: an oral history woven like a fine tapestry. At 507 pages, this book is as epic as Lynch’s film should have been. The hardcover edition even has one of those integrated ribbon bookmarks, like a family Bible. I love those!
I also began reading Daniel De Visé’s new The Blues Brothers: An Epic Friendship, the Rise of Improv, and the Making of an American Film Classic. This a great book—impeccably researched and entertainingly written. Plus, it's jogging some fond memories for this old codger. De Visé mentions the film’s “quiet Chicago premiere” in a small theater in Norridge. I was there! De Visé writes of stars Ackroyd and Belushi visiting Mayor Jane Byrne’s office in City Hall to present her with a check and thank her for giving them free reign to make their film. I was there too! You can read about that little adventure here.

PLEASE NOTE: Our very own Patrick Bromley and his partner-in-crime Heather Wixson will be doing a book signing at Dark Delicacies on Saturday, April 27, for their cool new book, In Search of Darkness: The Definitive Look at '80s Horror. I know where I will be that day—at Dark Delicacies trying to somehow disrupt the festivities.

All in all, a busy week. And I didn’t even get to the part where my wife and I hosted a charming vlogger and his family for the week! HINT: We all ate cereal at midnight.

But that’s a story for another day...


  1. Damnit, you're making me spend money again. I had to get the Blues Brothers book.

    I already have the Camerons's 4k discs, and the Dune book, so i'm fine there. I'm gonna need the Beach Party blu-ray though.

    Speaking of Dune. Lynch's Dune is one of my favorite movie ever (next to Blues Brothers). My friend found a fan-edit on youtube that incorporates a bunch of deleted scenes. It's 3h and even better than the theatrical version. In today's trend of super long movies, one could only dream of what Lynch would've done with that kind of liberty and this fan-edit is a glimpse of what could've been.

    1. And Happy Birthday JB 🎊🎉🎂

    2. Here is the fan edit


    3. Thanks for the link Kunider! alas its blocked here. p00p.

    4. Search for Dune Fanedit. It's been reposted a few times. One should work




    JB...for this information i am eternally in your debt. The Blues Brothers is far more than my absolute favorite movie of all time. Ill happily take the stand in any movie debate court as to why it is THE greatest movie of all time. That, combined with my recent obsession with making-of movie-based books, makes me doubly excited for this news. You just made my year. Thanks buddy.

    Im giddy to read your linked article on the flick next!!!

    Peace and 106 Miles to Chicago...a full tank of gas...a half a pack of cigarettes....its dark and we're wearing sunglasses.